Tag: 4.5 Reviews

Guest Review: The Sound of Glass by Karen White

Posted November 9, 2016 by Tina R in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: The Sound of Glass by Karen WhiteReviewer: Tina
The Sound of Glass by Karen White
Published by NAL
Publication Date: May 12th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Women's Fiction
Pages: 432
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four-half-stars

The New York Times bestselling author of A Long Time Gone now explores a Southern family’s buried history, which will change the life of the woman who unearths it, secret by shattering secret.

It has been two years since the death of Merritt Heyward’s husband, Cal, when she receives unexpected news—Cal’s family home in Beaufort, South Carolina, bequeathed by Cal’s reclusive grandmother, now belongs to Merritt.

Charting the course of an uncertain life—and feeling guilt from her husband’s tragic death—Merritt travels from her home in Maine to Beaufort, where the secrets of Cal’s unspoken-of past reside among the pluff mud and jasmine of the ancestral Heyward home on the Bluff. This unknown legacy, now Merritt’s, will change and define her as she navigates her new life—a new life complicated by the arrival of her too young stepmother and ten-year-old half-brother.

Soon, in this house of strangers, Merritt is forced into unraveling the Heyward family past as she faces her own fears and finds the healing she needs in the salt air of the Low Country.

I absolutely adore Southern Women’s Fiction. Although I am not sure what originally got me hooked, I have become a die-hard fan. Any book in this genre will eventually find it’s way not only onto my TBR pile, but also into my heart. The Sound of Glass by Karen White is no exception.

I have many books by Karen White on my Kindle. On exact count, I have twelve. Unfortunately, The Sound of Glass is not one of them. I actually picked this one up on a recent trip to the library.

This book got my attention for several reasons. First of all, the author is Karen White. Nothing left to say about that fact. Then of course it is Southern fiction. Also, being a fan of the author as I am, you can’t help but notice that the majority of her books have gorgeous covers! They pretty much dare you to pull them off the shelf. The deal was sealed when I read the back cover. I knew I would be reading this book before the day was over.

The Sound of Glass is an exquisitely written story of the complex interconnecting lives of a family. It is chocked full of all the drama and raw emotion that you can expect when a vast array of injured and imperfect personalities come together. I found all the characters to be realistically portrayed and highly deserving of the compassion that the reader feels towards them. I finished the book knowing that this would be one that I would remember and recommend.

The Sound of Glass couldn’t be a more perfect title for this book. Just like the sensation of shattering glass, the story is explosive, unexpected and often composed of jagged and sharp edges. It is an exceptional portrayal of a dysfunctional family unit. I was truly affected by this powerful tale.

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

four-half-stars

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Review: For Better or Worse by Lauren Layne

Posted September 2, 2016 by Rowena in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: For Better or Worse by Lauren LayneReviewer: Rowena
For Better or Worse by Lauren Layne
Series: Wedding Belles #2
Also in this series: From This Day Forward, To Have and to Hold, To Love and to Cherish
Published by Pocket Books
Publication Date: August 30th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 368
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four-half-stars

Will a budding wedding planner and her bad boy neighbor stop banging heads and start hearing wedding bells in the sexy second novel in USA TODAY bestselling author Lauren Layne’s irresistible new series that marries Sex and the City with The Wedding Planner?

When small-town girl Heather Fowler finally gets promoted from assistant to actual wedding planner, she’s determined to make it as one of Manhattan’s elite Wedding Belles. Unfortunately, her first client demands an opulent black-tie affair at the Plaza…in five months’ time. Heather’s days quickly become a flurry of cake tastings, dress-fittings, RSVP cards, and bridal tantrums. But what she’s really losing sleep over is the live music blaring from her playboy neighbor’s apartment all night.

Five years ago, Josh Tanner was an up-and-comer on Wall Street, complete with the penthouse and the migraines. But a grim cancer diagnosis made him realize there is more to life than the corner office. If only he could convince his pretty, workaholic neighbor to let loose, too. As Heather lets down her guard, Josh is surprised when he starts falling for the sweet, vulnerable woman hiding beneath those power suits. Soon, it’s Heather’s turn to convince Josh to take the biggest risk of all: love.

Lauren Layne has cemented herself on my favorites shelf. She has consistently written fantastic contemporary romances that have rocked my socks and For Better or Worse is no different. This book had it all, a steamy romance with characters that warmed my heart and a hot hero who is a complete flirty spice which is seriously my jam.

I have no complaints. Well, just one and that is the book ended. I didn’t want it to end. This was a fast and flirty ride that I loved to pieces.

Heather is and assistant wedding planner with her eyes set on the promotion that is just around the corner. She’s been working toward becoming a wedding planner her entire life and she’s thrilled that the title is within reach. She works for the highly sought after Wedding Belles and her wedding planning firm has just been hired to work on a Kim Kardashian like celebrity’s wedding and Heather has been given the green light to plan her little heart out. Only thing is, the bride doesn’t want to have anything to do with the planning. She’s confused as crap about that and as time goes on, she becomes frustrated as all get out but she’s determine to nail this job because she wants to drop the assistant from her job title.

It’s hard enough to work on a wedding where the bride wants no input and yet wants you to deliver the wedding of a lifetime but when you’ve got a noisy neighbor that keeps you up all night with his constant band practice and loud guests, nerves are going to be shot and Heather’s nerves are definitely shot.

It’s no surprise that she can’t stand her neighbor and her neighbor? He loves that he gets on her nerves. Josh Tanner is living the life. He does what he wants day in and day out, he goes wherever he wants to go and he rocks out with his band whenever he feels like it much to his neighbor’s chagrin. She likes to come banging on his door to tell him to shut up and every time she does, he gets excited. He looks forward to bickering with his neighbor because she’s one hot piece of action that he wants to have…but when the relationship he doesn’t want to have starts becoming more real with each passing day, Josh has to decide if Heather is worth telling all of his secrets to.

There wasn’t much that I didn’t enjoy about this book. I loved Josh. I loved Heather. I loved the Belles and seeing Seth and Brooke again. I loved the bromance that is forming between Josh, Seth and Logan and really, I just love all things Lauren Layne. I’m probably starting to sound like a broken record but hot damn, she writes my kind of romances. The fun and flirty romances that has me happy sighing all over the place. Josh was a great hero and I adored his family and that meddling Mom of his. His whole secret wasn’t hard to figure out but that’s okay because everything else was fan-fricking-tastic.

If you’re looking for a good reading time, pick this one up. It’s my favorite of the series so far. I cannot wait for Logan and Alexis. It needs to be October already. Kudos to Lauren Layne for another home run.

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

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four-half-stars

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Review: Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews

Posted August 17, 2016 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Magic Shifts by Ilona AndrewsReviewer: Holly
Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews
Series: Kate Daniels #8
Also in this series: Magic Shifts, Magic Binds (Kate Daniels, #9)
Published by Penguin Publishing Group
Publication Date: February 23rd 2016
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Contemporary, Urban, Romance
Pages: 384
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four-half-stars

Magic is coming and going in waves in post-Shift Atlanta - and each crest leaves danger in its wake . . .
After breaking from life with the Pack, mercenary Kate Daniels and her mate - former Beast Lord Curran Lennart - are adjusting to a very different pace. While they're thrilled to escape all the infighting, Kate and Curran know that separating from the Pack completely is a process that will take time.
But when they learn that their friend Eduardo has gone missing, Kate and Curran shift their focus to investigate his disappearance. As they dig further into the merc's business, they discover that the Mercenary Guild has gone to hell and that Eduardo's recent assignments are connected in the most sinister way . . .
An ancient enemy has arisen, and Kate and Curran are the only ones who can stop it - before it takes their city apart piece by piece.
Praise for Ilona Andrews and the Kate Daniels novels
'Ilona Andrews's books are guaranteed good reads.' Patricia Briggs, #1 New York Timesbestselling author of Fire Touched
'Kate is a great kick-ass heroine.' Locus
'Andrews's edgy series stands apart.' Library Journal
'One of the brightest voices in urban fantasy . . . Ilona Andrews delivers only the best.' Jeaniene Frost, New York Times bestselling author of Bound by Flames

A couple months ago I binge-read the first 7 books in this series (including novellas) then decided to take a break before I burned out. I’m glad I came at this fresh. Magic Shifts was a great story. It may be my favorite of the series to date.
Since Curran and Kate have left the Pack and Kate magically claimed Atlanta as her own, they’ve been focusing on building Kate’s PI business and raising Julie, Kate’s adopted daughter. Curran is still missing the constant challenges he faced as Beast Lord. He doesn’t necessarily miss the Pack or the position of Beast Lord, but he misses the constant action that came with it. When he’s given the opportunity to run the Mercenary Guild, he jumps at it. That the Guild wants nothing to do with him just makes it a more fun challenge for him.
Kate is still learning just what claiming the city means, and waiting for the other shoe will drop with her father. She’s also still stressing the fact that Curran gave up the Pack for her and what that’s going to mean for their future. They aren’t allowed to visit the Keep for 30 days (per pack rules), but that doesn’t stop the Pack from coming to them.
When George, one of the bear shifters, asks for help finding her mate, Kate and Curran realize they can’t say no. When Kate’s forced to fight a giant outside the Guild and realizes some ancient evil magic is invading their home, she realizes the two cases might be related. And they need to figure out what’s going on before their entire city is destroyed.
This book picks up pretty much where book seven, Magic Breaks, left off. Kate and Curran have moved out of the Keep and into their own home. They aren’t allowed to visit the Keep for 30 days, but they’re still visited by many Pack members. They’re still waiting to see which members of the pack are going to leave with them and they’re in a holding period with Kate’s dad.
Despite how much is going on in this world, the story flows seamlessly. The Pack, the People, Julie, Curran and Kate, Kate’s dad, the Mercenary Guild…they all come to life. There’s action, adventure, intrigue, romance, epic battles, strange magic and a world so bright and vivid it’s like watching it on a movie screen.
4.5 out of 5
four-half-stars

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Guest Review: Gone Too Deep by Katie Ruggle

Posted August 3, 2016 by Jen in Reviews | 8 Comments

Guest Review: Gone Too Deep by Katie RuggleReviewer: Jen
Gone Too Deep by Katie Ruggle
Series: Search and Rescue #3
Also in this series: Fan the Flames, In Safe Hands
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: August 2nd 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense
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four-half-stars

In the remote Rocky Mountains, lives depend on the Search & Rescue brotherhood. But in a place this far off the map, trust is hard to come by and secrets can be murder...

George Holloway has spent his life alone, exploring the treacherous beauty of the Colorado Rockies. He's the best survival expert Search and Rescue has, which makes him the obvious choice to lead Ellie Price through deadly terrain to find her missing father. There's just one problem-Ellie's everything George isn't. She's a city girl, charming, gregarious, delicate, small. And when she looks up at him with those big, dark eyes, he swears he would tear the world apart to keep her safe.

With a killer on the loose, he may have no choice.

Ellie's determined to find her father no matter the cost. But as she and her gorgeous mountain of a guide fight their way through an unforgiving wilderness, they find themselves in the crosshairs of a dangerous man in search of revenge. And they are now his prey...

Another Search and Rescue book! Woo!

In book 3, we finally get to learn more about the mysterious George Holloway, the extremely silent but skilled member of the dive team and the best in the area at mountain survival. Ellie Price comes to town looking for her dad, Baxter Price, who is an older man tied up somehow in the murder plot that’s been running through the series. She believes Baxter is trying to hide out at a family cabin in the wilderness, and she hires George to take her there since it’s several days hike from an accessible road. Their expedition ends up going sideways, and pretty soon both Ellie and her dad are involved in a danger tied to the same murder that set all the events into motion.

As with the first two books in series, this one is told primarily from the heroine’s point of view, but here we do get a few very brief scenes from George’s point of view. This is necessary because there are a few times where Ellie is incapacitated/unavailable so George’s perspective is needed and also because George speaks so very little that without a peek into his perspective it would be difficult to know what his deal was! Taciturn would definitely be an understatement–I feel pretty confident saying I personally have never read a book with a hero who talks less than George. For example, he had several extended interactions with Ellie, including her explaining her task and hiring him to guide her, before he utters even a single word. Now THAT’S a guy who doesn’t like to talk.

But that doesn’t mean he isn’t sweet and caring! He is the kind of hero who shows his love through taking care of someone, and over time, he starts to do all those little actions to care for Ellie. He essentially spent his entire adult life alone after his dad died when he was 17, and once he meets Ellie he has to acknowledge he’s lonelier than he realized. He’s also inexperienced with women (minor spoiler: virgin hero alert!), but it’s handled well because the book takes time to build their attraction and explores their physical relationship slowly. George is a freaking adorable mountain man who’s big, hairy, and impossibly tender underneath his rough exterior, and I loved him for it. And he does warm to Ellie and start talking eventually. He’ll never be a chatterbox, but Ellie clearly makes him want to connect and reach out to someone. She brings out the best in him, and her patience and sensitivity were the perfect match for him. They truly made one of the cutest romance couples I’ve read about in a long time.

I really love the humor in this series, and this book was no exception. My favorite part was the first half of the book, when Ellie and George are hiking through the wilderness and she is trying to figure out how to handle this huge guy who grunts more than he talks. But the biggest comedy gold in the book comes once again from Lou, the heroine from book 1. I am madly in love with her and the more I hear from her, the more she rises to the top of my “favorite heroines” pile. These books are just so rich in unique characters you can’t help but want to get to know better.

I desperately want to talk about the ending because..like, WHOA. I will restrain myself and not spoil it, but just know when I read it I let out a desperate and loud “Noooooo!” It’s a major twist I am conflicted about, and it’s making me question wtf is going on in this town.

There were some minor issues that stopped this book from shooting straight to 5 stars, like some weird handling of a guy who (it’s implied) may be an attempted rapist. (Rest assured there is no rape in the book, but the implication given is that this one character might do such a thing if given the chance, which I thought was kind of a heavy issue to work in but then largely ignore.) Thank goodness these books are coming out in fairly quick succession (In Safe Hands comes out Oct 4) because I do not want to wait to find out how this all ends. I am thoroughly hooked.

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

*I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

four-half-stars

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Guest Review: Deadly Odds by Adrienne Giordano

Posted August 1, 2016 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Deadly Odds by Adrienne GiordanoReviewer: Jen
Deadly Odds by Adrienne Giordano
Series: Casino Fortuna #1

Publication Date: June 26, 2016
Genres: Romantic Suspense
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four-half-stars

At Casino Fortuna, stakes are high and the nights are hot…

FBI agent-turned-consultant Kate Daniels hit the jackpot with her new assignment. A cheat is cashing in on the Strip, and she’s hired by Vegas’ biggest name to ensure his glamorous casino isn’t a target. Fortuna is a high roller’s paradise, all gleaming marble and dollar signs. Even a single flaw in security could cost big bucks. Kate can’t afford distractions. Especially the tall, dark and perfectly chiseled kind. Business and pleasure don’t mix. And sleeping with the boss is a dangerous gamble.

Fortuna’s VP of casino operations, Ross Cooper, is gaming’s golden boy. He’s got a head for business, an eye for beautiful women, and a love for the Vegas lifestyle. When he spots a gorgeous redhead casing his blackjack tables, Ross is more than a little intrigued—he’s suspicious. But Kate is no thief…she’s working for him? Ross hates surprises almost as much as the idea of trouble in his casino.

Kate quickly proves she’s more than a pretty face. Her instincts and smarts are just as enticing. And when her investigation turns deadly, Ross will risk it all to keep her by his side.

I almost stayed away from this book, because I was pretty sure I knew what it was about: a rich, domineering alpha casino boss in a gritty, tough business who gets off on ordering around a sexy lady, which isn’t a bad thing but isn’t always my cuppa. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to a get a really funny, sweet, and exciting story with a cast of characters I just plain loved reading about.

Kate Daniels is a security consultant hired to help the new Fortuna casino outside Las Vegas tighten up their security in light of recent troubles at other casinos. She has to work with casino manager Ross Cooper, who is majorly attracted to her but doesn’t particularly appreciate his boss bringing in outside help. Kate and Ross immediately start circling each other but know it’s not a good idea to mix business and pleasure. Plus, catching the cheater becomes even more important when it looks like the Fortuna is getting hit as well.

I was madly in love with both Kate and Ross. Both of them are scary good at their jobs, and I appreciate a hero and heroine who have skills and enjoy their careers. Ross is, as Kate puts it, a “glad-hander”. He is amazing at working the extremely wealthy high rollers the casino caters to, and he is equally skilled at managing the complex beast that is a casino. He’s shot to the top of his profession and landed his dream job in his early 30s–they don’t call him the golden boy for nothing. But best of all, he’s not a jerk! He genuinely cares about his employees and the people around him, and while he is a bit of a player, he is honest with and respectful of the women he dates. It’s so rare to read about a hero who’s uber-successful in business that is NOT an alphahole. Don’t get me wrong, he’s definitely bossy and cocky, but he’s still a regular, decent guy. However, it was also fun to see Kate knock him down a peg or two. He has to work for her, as it should be!

Kate is also ridiculously smart and good at her job. She can pick out the slightest detail and understands how to read people, which is why she’s so good at spotting cheaters. The two of them together were great, too. Up until the last part of the book, they do a great job of communicating with each other and being honest about their feelings. They are both kind of surprised and freaked out by not only their attraction but how much they genuinely enjoy each other’s company, and it’s so cute to see them just baffled by what is happening. I would read a whole series about Kate and Ross catching casino cheats because I adored them.

There is a small but delightful cast of side characters too, especially Don, the Fortuna’s very old school head of security who is a laugh riot. The dialog between all the characters is funny and sharp, and the casino lingo and insider glimpses really brought the setting to life. Plus, the mystery isn’t half bad. I had an inkling of who might be involved early on, but the whole thing was more complex than I assumed at the start. This isn’t a dark or gritty book, nor is it particularly action packed, but that gives Kate and Ross time to get to know each other.

I did get a little frustrated by the conflict that drives the lovers apart near the end. Ross gets (unjustly) upset over something Kate does, which seemed out of character for the smart, cautious business man he was. Kate too flies off the handle and runs away too fast. It seemed more inflated than it had to be, and it put just a tiny damper on my enjoyment.

Still, it’s a minor complaint. I thought this book was fantastic, and as it looks like this is the start of a new series, I’ll definitely be looking forward to more.

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

*I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

four-half-stars

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